Reviewed by Gonzague Jourdain, Intira Collins, and Suwalai Chalermpantmetagul (PHPT, Thailand)
July 18, 2007
Viewers will enjoy this lively film about HIV testing within a young couple in Thailand.
Eve, a young Thai woman, is excessively concerned about the risks of transmission of HIV through casual contact. She insists that her boyfriend, Adam, wear gloves when playing with a child whose father is rumored to be sick with AIDS. With Adam, she has always insisted that he wears a condom and has asked him to take a HIV test before they get married.
Adam is portrayed as a good guy who is kind to his neighbors. To stop having to wear condoms with Eve and to get married, he decides to go for an HIV test. The central part of the film is the post test counseling session, conducted by a sympathetic doctor who tells him that he tested positive, and encourages him to bring his girlfriend in for counseling and information on HIV. But her advice is somewhat ineffective as Adam runs out and lies to his girlfriend about his test results.
The film ends with a discussion between the nurse and the doctor, which reflects the classic conflict between the interests of the society (Eve’s vulnerability to infection) and that of the individual (Adam’s right to confidentiality), and concludes that confidentiality of medical information is essential to patients’ trust and confidence in their physicians. The film closes with a question to the viewer – are you open enough for your partner to confine in you about their HIV status?, highlighting the barriers of stigma and discrimination in disclosing to partners and relatives.
The film seems to target a broad spectrum of viewers. The Biblical names of the two main characters and explanations on the offerings for monks are clearly geared towards a Western audience, while the focus on confidentiality and stigma seems more targeted towards Thai viewers.
The film effectively grabs our attention but the director leaves us hanging with questions – what will an "average" Adam do? Will he continue to lie about his HIV status? Will he stop using condoms with Eve? Will he suggest Eve to go to the doctor for HIV information and counseling? These questions need to be tackled.
The end of the film currently suggests – quite correctly - that we may all be partly responsible for the patient’s fear to disclose his HIV status, but this ending also suggest –rather pessimistically that stigma and discrimination remains unchanged over time and throughout an individual’s situation. Professional counselors in Thailand have been dealing with the problem of HIV disclosure and counseling for discordant couples for more than 15 years now, providing patients with support in disclosing to partners and relatives.
Instead of ending with an ethical debate hanging in the air, the second part of the movie has to be delivered. One can imagine that, the patient meets HIV counseling experts, such as a well known former university professor of Obstetrics who travels Thailand giving trainings to positive people network and hospital staff and is well known for his modern thinking about health reproductive choices in the Thai society. Dealing with disclosure could be the subject of the conversation. Adam and Eve both have to think hard about what to do next – as do we. Therefore, we eagerly await the next part of the movie!